Connie Beck, Associate Professor, University of Arizona
NIJ Conference 2010
Connie Beck: The question really is a more nuanced one, and that is with what populations, at what point in time and talking about what kind of violence or aggression, that there is no general figure that you can give for the parity or non-parity between perpetration of domestic violence or abuse.
What we're learning is that we need to be very careful about the populations that we're speaking about and the type of violence that we're talking about. So, for instance, if we're talking about college students and high school students and young adults, there is more parity between men and women in terms of low-level physical violence - the kicking, scratching and biting kinds of violence. But when you move into more serious kinds of violence, if you move into sexual violence - so let's say separation assault, stalking, sexual assault, homicide - there's great differences between perpetration between men and women. Men perpetrate at much higher rates of those types of violence, and particularly in older samples, samples of couples that have been married for a longer period of time and people who have children.
So I think we just have to be very, very careful about what we're talking about when we talk about men and women and perpetration of different kinds of violence.
What we're trying to do now is be much more specific about who we're looking at, how we define it, what we use to measure it and what the context of the relationship is. I think the relationship context in which this occurs is really, really important. What happened before, what happened during and what happened after? And when we look at what happened before, what's the context of the relationship? Does this abuse happen in an ongoing relationship with a lot of control where one person is controlling all the money? Whether the person works, whether they see anyone, who they see, what they wear, what they eat. If that's where a push or a shove or a broken bone happens, that's a very different kind of relationship than a relationship in which people don't resolve conflict very well. They get in an argument, it gets out of control, one person shoves the other, the other one hits back. That's a very different kind of relationship.
So I think what we're beginning to learn is that we really need to step back and look at the ongoing relationship, if there is one. Really understand what that looks like, and also really assess both men and women in the dyad. It's hard to make strong conclusions about a relationship unless you've talked to both people and you really have a good sense of what the relationship has looked like over time, if there is in fact a relationship that's existed over time. But we really have to understand that, and I think that's where the research should go.
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Connie Beck, Associate Professor, University of Arizona, Tucson
Date created: August 16, 2010